...paleoconservatism tends to display the weaknesses you would expect from an intellectual movement that hasn't held power, in any meaningful way, in God knows how long - specifically, a tendency to advance ideas without any regard whatsoever to their practicality, to condemn others for making compromises without pausing the consider the constraints and difficulties involved, and to obsess endlessly over battles that were lost a long time ago. Obviously, movements that are in power tend to succumb to precisely the opposite temptations, accepting an endless series of moral compromises as "the price of power" or "just the way things are," which is why a little Old Right purism can feel like a breath of fresh air in the era of Jack Abramoff and company. But it's still the case that paleoconservatism's frequent preoccupations - the evils of Abraham Lincoln, the unconstitutionality of the New Deal, the perfidy of FDR and the folly of fighting World War II - tend toward the anachronistic and the crankish, and that their policy prescriptions (more hats and streetcars, say) can feel like a deliberate flight from the realities of American politics in the Year of Our Lord 2007. This, I think, breeds the frustration that Larison's interlocutor was fumbling to express: The sense among more compromised conservatives that when confronted with the question, "well, what would you have done instead?," the paleocon answer tends to be "I would have voted for Alf Landon in '36, you idiot."Certainly sounds like Pat Buchanan's brand of conservatism to me.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
What's wrong with paleoconservatism? Ross Douthat: